weekly Reflection

The First Sunday of Advent

Advent is the liturgical season when we joyfully clean house in preparation for the visit of a much beloved guest. This guest is known variously as the Messiah, the Anointed One so long-expected by the Hebrew people; Emmanuel, "God with us;” and our Lord, Jesus Christ, God Incarnate, who has come to bring salvation to the world. This guest, whatever name we give, comes to us as a light, shining in our darkness, illuminating the way, guiding as along a path that leads us to wholeness, warmth and love.


Advent is also the season when we prepare ourselves for the second coming of Christ, when he will come to usher in the Kingdom of God. This will mark that path’s end, when we finally arrive at our destination: our true home in full reconciliation with God, where for all eternity we unite with each other bound by the love of our Creator.


The greatest gift we can ever receive is God coming to us as a guest. In Advent we anticipate this gift twice: once in the Incarnation and once at the end of time. In both we do our best to prepare for the much-anticipated arrival of this guest, just as we would perhaps for the return of a long absent family member. We clean our houses and make special preparations in the guest’s honor, so that when he arrives, he will be assured that his visit has been eagerly awaited. We sweep the house clean; we make the beds with freshly laundered and scented sheets; we have a banquet of good food and wine ready at a moment’s notice; and we fill our lamps with oil so that there is a welcoming light whenever the guest chooses to arrive. Hospitality to ensure our guest’s comfort, contentment, and joy is our only priority.


Jesus, the Messiah and Christ the King, the first and the last, the beginning and the end, the Alpha and the Omega, is the guest we all are awaiting. As Christians we understand that this is our opportunity to make ourselves and our world ready for both the Incarnation and for Kingdom of God.  But what does this readiness mean for us? It means that we listen to Christ's teaching and learn what God's will is for us: to love God and to love one another. This makes us clean. So, as we await this coming, we strive to remove all of the ugliness, all of the un-love that clutters our lives, in order that our “houses” - our hearts and minds - can become truly clean, truly worthy of our guest. This is what Advent is for us: a reminder that God is calling us to put our houses in order in anticipation of God's coming to fill our hearts with a love, peace and wholeness that exceeds our imagination.